Just take a look at that view out there and then question why I choose to live here. I mean, I know that a seaside town out of season is about as exciting as prunes without the custard but when you have the ocean almost knocking on your front door you can’t help but feel good about the world, and believe me, I have had some times when I really needed something to make me feel good about anything. I’ve had a tough life, when I think about it, but I doubt if I would have changed very much, not if I’m honest. It’s been interesting, in much the way of that Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. When you lead the kind of life I’ve had you can’t just give it up though, not even when you retire. The thing is, I’m a people person. I have spent most of my life involved in other lives, looking after my charges, massaging their egos and soothing their fevered brows. Histrionics, mostly, of course, but that’s how it is with your average theatrical type. When you have to provide drama reliably on stage it’s hard to break the habit after you take off the costume and the make-up. The tales I could tell! Well, I will, if you like. Just stick with me.
So here I am, Lord of the Manor in a cliff-top boarding house on the wrong side of the country and the wrong side of sixty. I don’t own the place of course, it belongs to Elsie, but I am a permanent resident and I like to think I would be missed if I ever moved on, not that I plan to leave any time soon. I have been here the best part of five years now, not to mention one or two summer seasons in the past, and Elsie relies on me a lot. I act as Mein Host when she does her end-of-season, mini Oktoberfest; handing round the plastic beer steins and making sure the music isn’t off for too long when the CD runs out. I’ve used some of my influence in entertainment circles to find her a few of the old time stars who don’t mind doing a turn or two to attract custom out of season. We had a Sixties pop revival last February that brought in a few paying guests. Mind you, it wasn’t clear whether ‘Sixties’ referred to the era or the lower age limit on the guests. We booked a group who had a couple of top ten hits back in the day. At least one of the combo featured in the original line-up, although the guitarist died from an excess of high living about thirty years ago and the singer’s hair seemed to have gone in sympathy. The audience enjoyed it though, but they usually do when the lager tap’s running.
I rarely see any of my old associates these days so I can’t give you any celebrity gossip. A very few of my old clients still send me a card at Christmas and there is one dear old friend who visits whenever he is in the area, which isn’t often but we can’t have everything. I won’t name names because it wouldn’t be fair but you will have seen him on television unless you’ve been living in Outer Mongolia for the last twenty years. They might even get some of his shows there, you never know. You will have heard of him if I said who it is but my lips are sealed. I first dressed him when he just left school, learning the ropes in the chorus. He had a wonderful voice, almost angelic, and no-one knows because he’s made his career in a totally different field. Well, I’ve seen him grow from a member of the crowd in that film musical, you know, the one with all those young lads in it, to a face that everyone recognises, but fame hasn’t damaged him at all. He’s still a gentleman. Not like some.
So I could tell you some stories about the stars I’ve met but you wouldn’t be able to appreciate them properly because I won’t say who they are. No, what I’ve found out over the years is that you get some of the most fascinating stories from ordinary people, the type that stays here on their holidays. In five years I’ve heard some cracking tales and I don’t mind sharing them because the chance of you meeting that cast of characters is about as likely as a comeback by the Beatles, and, since half of them are dead, that’s no chance. I don’t miss much when I sit here observing and I’ve always been a good listener so I get told a lot of secrets. I promise that you’ll never miss the famous ones. Tell you what, let’s get a round in and I’ll show you what I mean.